gravel riding

For unpaved road lovers, it’s a ‘Show & Tell’ weekend

by on June 27th, 2018 at 11:47 am

In the past few years there’s been a meteoric rise in the popularity of unpaved road riding — a.k.a. “gravel grinding”. In just five years we’ve gone from exploring “Bullshit” roads, to capturing the State of Oregon’s attention, to the rise and fall of the Oregon Outback.

The current state of this adventurous style of riding is the proliferation of groups that organize themselves online via social media and plan unsanctioned, unsupported rides on logging and forest roads in and around the Portland region.

One of the largest and most well-known of those groups is Our Mother the Mountain, and this weekend will be something of a coming-out party for all if its fans. Known simply as OMTM, the group is “led” by people whose knowledge of excellent backroad routes is as deep as their passion for riding them. These are the folks who inspired me to discover the dark side of Larch Mountain and the “hell of the North Plains.”

This weekend, Portland-based HiFi Wheels will team up with OMTM, Royale Brewing, and emerging apparel brand Biciclista for Show & Tell, a full weekend of riding and connecting with other unpaved enthusiasts.

There’s a bike show and two days of riding planned. Here’s how it’ll go:[Read more…]

With ‘Skull’ event, Burns stakes a claim as America’s best gravel riding destination

by on June 18th, 2018 at 4:22 pm

Justin Pitts called drove nine hours from San Francisco to Burns to ride in the Skull 120. Here he is on an unmarked road north of Dry Gulch Reservoir.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

The town of Burns in Harney County is one of the most remote places in Oregon. At over 10,000 square miles, you could fit 21 Multnomah Counties inside of it. And with a land mass about the size of Massachusetts, Harney County has less than one resident per square mile.
[Read more…]

Love riding gravel? Meet Washington County’s unpaved road “Kahuna” Dan Morgan

by on March 2nd, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Dan Morgan on Smoke Ranch Road, one of his favorites. After riding roads like these for years, he’s now helping make sure they stay unpaved.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s fitting that I first met Dan Morgan on a gravel road.

The 66 year-old former dairy farmer, IBM retiree and Beaverton resident has been riding unpaved country roads his whole life. Now that the activity has become one of the biggest trends in cycling, he’s become an ambassador of sorts. He’s also working to prevent the county from paving over this newly discovered paradise.
[Read more…]

Finding heaven on the Hell of the North Plains

by on January 22nd, 2018 at 4:04 pm

And then there was this bright green meadow on our way up to the top of Wildcat Mountain.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Sometimes all it takes to find a good adventure on two wheels is to just look a little harder.

Many of the best roads on Saturday’s Hell of the North Plains ride were in places I’ve ridden or driven near for many years. But somehow, someway, the routefinding raconteurs at Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) manage to go deeper into (relatively) local backroads than most of us will ever venture on our own.
[Read more…]

The Ride: Exploring the Gifford Pinchot National Forest ‘Hinterland’

by on May 3rd, 2016 at 10:01 am

Into the Hinterland we go.
(All photos courtesy Ron Lewis/OMTM.cc)

Welcome to The Ride, our occassional series where we share amazing adventures in Portland and beyond. If you have a ride to share and want to see it featured here, drop me a line.

Just across the Columbia River from Oregon the Gifford Pinchot National Forest beckons bike adventurers. Last year I spent a very memorable day getting to know it better during the Gifford Gravel 50 (which is back for its second running this Saturday).
[Read more…]

Weyerhaeuser enforcing gravel road permits amid confusion over public right-of-way

by on October 15th, 2015 at 10:14 am

The logging roads northwest of Vernonia are spectacular, but not all of them are open to public access.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Several weeks ago a group of bicycle riders ran into a security guard while riding dirt roads outside of Vernonia. The incident shows that Weyerhaeuser Columbia Timberlands is actively enforcing the new permit program they launched back in July. It has also set off an effort by Columbia County Parks to create new signage that clarifies which roads the public is still free to use without a permit.
[Read more…]

McMenamins Grand Lodge as a base camp for biking adventures around Forest Grove

by on May 8th, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Forest Grove - Barney Reservoir loop-1.jpg

Grand Lodge’s main entrance makes for
a classy way to start a ride.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Just a quick trip on the MAX blue line west of Portland (about 25 miles) lies Forest Grove, a small town rich in history that just so happens to make a great launching pad for cycling adventures.

I’m out here thanks to McMenamins Grand Lodge, a hotel and resort looking to establish its bike-friendly credentials. McMenamins invited me here to spend a few nights and ride and photograph local roads and backroads. I eagerly accepted for two simple reasons: I was happy to hear that McMenamins, owners and operators of 56 establishments throughout Oregon and Washington, wanted to be more bike-friendly; and I really like riding bikes — especially in new (to me) places.

McMenamins and Forest Grove are a perfect match. One has a rich history and the other specializes in highlighting it. Forest Grove was incorporated in 1872, making it the first city in Washington County (thanks Wikipedia). It’s nestled at the western-most edge of urban development and there’s no civilization (except farms) between it and the Oregon Coast. [Read more…]

Hey gravel road riders – runners want in on the action too

by on April 9th, 2015 at 9:57 am

Forest Park-6

Leif Erikson road in Forest Park.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Read more…]

The Ride: Unpaved fun on Banks backroads (photo gallery)

by on January 12th, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Banks backroads loop-40

Great roads await in the hills surrounding the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Once you open yourself up to the possibility of riding unpaved roads, a whole new world awaits. That, to me, is one of the most exciting things about the “gravel riding” revolution. It’s like we just scored a bunch of new places to ride and it came without loss of blood or treasure.
[Read more…]

Travel Oregon adds gravel routes to bicycling portal website

by on October 15th, 2014 at 11:23 am

Now you have one less excuse to not explore Oregon’s excellent unpaved roads.

RideOregonRide.com, the awesome resource developed by Oregon’s tourism commission Travel Oregon, now includes a handful of the best gravel rides our state has to offer.
[Read more…]